14ymedio, Havana, 9 August 2016 – Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) activists have decided to end the hunger strike they have engaged in for periods ranging from days to weeks, among them Carlos Amel Oliva who, as of this Tuesday, had not eaten for four weeks. The opposition member told 14ymedio that the decision was made because they have managed “to put a focus on the human rights violations that occur in Cuba.”
His voice sounding tired over the phone line, the dissident told this newspaper that after five in the afternoon he drank his first glass of water since last Friday, when he also declared a thirst strike. He confirmed that the other seven UNPACU strikers have joined in his decision.
Activists who had joined the Oliva’s fast included Maikel Mediaceja Ramos, Zulma López Saldaña, Oria Casanova Josefa Romero, Ruben Alvarado Reyes, Laudelino Rodriguez Mendoza, Alexander Martinez Rizo and Carlos Infante Rodriguez. The latter joined the protest from the prison in Las Tunas.
Oliva said that he did “not want to abandon the strike” but realized that “vanity or foolishness without any purpose is useless.” So he decided to end the fast and the first place he visited after his hospitalization was UNPACU’s main headquarters in Santiago de Cuba to “acknowledge the support” of the other strikers.
“For us it was a victory,” said the youth leader, who also said that other activists who had supported the strike felt “comforted and useful in the midst of the pains and sorrows,” on hearing the news. Oliva said the meeting with his partners in the cause was “very emotional and beautiful.”
For his part, Jose Daniel Ferrer, UNPACU’s leader, told this newspaper that the leadership of the organization was “very happy with the decision.” The opponent said that they had been asking them to end the strike for some time. According to Ferrer, the strike succeeded “in attracting international public opinion to the situation faced by opponents of the regime.”
Oliva now hopes to convince the well-known dissident Guillermo Fariñas that he should also end his hunger strike that began last July 20, through which he is demanding the end of repression against dissidents and for the authorities to agree to a dialogue with the opposition.
However, Jorge Luis Artiles Montiel, spokesman for Guillermo Fariñas during his hunger strike, told this newspaper that the dissident “will continue until the final consequences” and believes that “these young Easterners have performed a brave act,” referring to the UNPACU activists.
Eliecer Avila, who on Monday published an article urging Oliva to end the strike said it filled him with satisfaction that the activists have made that decision. “It is really reasonable and I am happy to have contributed a bit in that direction, because their lives will always be the most important thing,” said the leader of the movement we Somos+ (We Are More).